Tag Archives: Doug York

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Make It Count with Rodefer Moss & Co, PLLC | Are You Ready for an IRS Audit?

By Doug York, CPA & Partner, Rodefer Moss & Co, PLLC

If being selected for an IRS audit were a game show, it’d be called the Wheel of Misfortune.

Though the IRS in 2016 audited about one million individual tax returns, it represented only about 0.7% of all returns filed. That’s a 16% drop from a year earlier and means there was about a one in 140 chance that when the IRS wheel spun its audit wheel it landed on your name. That’s down from about one in 120 returns audited in 2015.

Corporate audits in 2016 fell to 1.1 percent from 1.3 percent a year earlier. Overall, it was the sixth straight year the number of audits declined.

Doug York CPA/Partner Rodefer Moss & Co, PLLC

Doug York
CPA/Partner
Rodefer Moss & Co, PLLC

Budget reductions at the IRS are blamed for reduced enforcement. Critics contend that years of inadequate IRS appropriates are leading to the decline in audits and thus perhaps emboldening tax cheats.

IRS critics contend that the IRS had become politicized; for example, the much-publicized IRS targeting of conservative organizations. After an investigation, Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik, in a letter to Congress saying that no charges would be filed against anyone involved in the scandal, explaining that what was discovered was, “substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints. But poor management is not a crime.”

While poor management may not be a crime, it’s not a confidence-builder, either.

Audits tend to be dollar-figure driven. The higher an individual’s income, the greater the possibility of an audit. Income levels of more than $1 million a year saw audit possibilities approach 6%, the Wall Street Journal reported on March 26, 2017. Incomes above $200,000 saw a 1.7% chance of being audited. Under $200,000 the figure declined to 0.6%.

If your income is above $10 million, there’s about a one-in-three chance you’ll be subject to an audit.

The more complicated a person’s tax return, the more it raises the likelihood of an audit. As a person’s income increases their various financial instruments, shelters, investments, deductions, and other factors tend to become more complex – and more attractive to IRS auditors.

Suspicion of unreported income; questionable deductions; foreign income or accounts; appearance of unreported income; and other maybe-this-doesn’t-pass-the-smell-test factors bring the IRS bloodhounds sniffing at a person’s income paper trail.

Corporations stand a much higher chance of being audited, and again, the higher the income, the higher the probability of an audit because of the amount of money involved. Also, as with high-income individual taxpayers, corporate tax returns tend to be very complicated, which again leads to greater scrutiny.

Regardless of the numerical factors impacting the number of IRS audits, everyone – individuals and corporations – should conduct their affairs is if tomorrow they’ll receive notice of an audit.

Obeying financial laws and keeping good records for your own protection is common sense. That doesn’t mean regardless of your tax position that you and the IRS are going to agree on everything either through an audit or because your tax return was flagged for some reason.

The IRS doesn’t always prevail in tax disputes. And it’s possible, the faces behind the acronym being human, for IRS employees to make mistakes. Thus, keeping good records and not becoming overly “creative” in your financial reporting guard against IRS problems.

Another reason to always be audit-ready is that when the IRS Wheel of Misfortune spins, it will land on someone’s name. Betting it won’t be you is a gamble.

Rodefer Moss is a three-state accounting firm with offices in New Albany, Corydon, and Georgetown, Ind., Louisville, Ky., and four offices across Tennessee. The firm’s website is www.rodefermoss.com.

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Make It Count with Rodefer Moss & Co., PLLC | IRAs are a taxing decision

By Doug York, CPA & Partner, Rodefer Moss & Co, PLLC

When to contribute to your 2016 Individual Retirement Accounts is a taxing and spending decision. So, potentially, is determining how much to contribute. The deadline is April 18 for tax year 2016 IRA contributions. That’s three days beyond the normal April 15 tax day deadline because of Emancipation Day, a holiday in Washington, D.C.

Doug York CPA/Partner Rodefer Moss & Co, PLLC

Doug York
CPA/Partner
Rodefer Moss & Co, PLLC

To take advantage of growth in an IRA, it’s usually better to make your contributions as early in the tax year as possible.

But this isn’t always financially feasible, which makes the deadline reaching into the following year a benefit for retirement savings. How much should you contribute? Given the challenges of retirement, the need for consistent income, and a general desire to maintain a similar standard of living once you stop working, you will probably want to contribute as much as you can up to the allowable limit.

Time Magazine in March 2016, in an article on retirement planning, said that even as lifespans lengthen, some 56 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 in retirement savings. Only 18 percent had put away more than $200,000.

An IRA enables you to pay yourself during your growth and peak earning years so that you’ll be able to pay yourself as you ratchet back your work schedule or retire altogether. How much you contribute today will have direct bearing on your quality of life later.

 IRA contribution limits for tax year 2016 are $5,500 for taxpayers up to age 50, and $6,500 for taxpayers age 50 or older.

As Americans typically don’t save enough for retirement, the extra $1,000 gives people of greater age an opportunity to make up lost savings ground. The limit starts to phase out if your income is over $99,000 married or $62,000 single. Also you may not be able to contribute if you or your spouse has a 401(k) or other retirement plan.

Tax consequences come into play if you make IRA contributions above the allowable limits.

There is a six percent tax on IRA contributions that exceed the contribution limits. For example, if you’re older than 50 and put $7,500 in your IRA for 2016, you’ll be taxed $60 every year the extra contribution remains in your IRA.

IRA contribution limits don’t apply to rollover IRAs (putting your IRA money into another IRA plan). The rollover rules are expanded for military reservists called to active duty by allowing them up to two years to roll over a distribution.

Roth IRA contributions, as opposed to traditional IRAs, are made with money on which you’ve already paid taxes, making it tax-free when withdrawn. If you have both a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA, you are restricted to the same total $5,500 contribution limit as if you only had a traditional IRA. However, the phase-out doesn’t start until $184,000 for married couples and $118,000 if you’re single.

 When it comes to withdrawing IRA funds, another deadline exists.

If you turned 70½ in 2016, you have until April 18, 2017, to take your required minimum distribution. This is true for each IRA in which you participate. The IRS provides a worksheet on how to figure your minimum required distribution.

There’s a hefty 50 percent excise tax on all or part of any required minimum distribution you fail to withdraw from your IRA. Again, this doesn’t apply to a Roth IRA. IRA owners who’ve reached required minimum distribution age can avoid tax on up to $100,000 by electing to transfer funds to a charity. This benefit was made permanent last year.

 There are 13 days (maybe less by the time you read this) left in which to make these decisions, if you haven’t already.

As with IRAs and so many other financial instruments, there can be nuances atop nuances. Talk to your accountant or financial planner to think through the best strategy for your present and future.

 Rodefer Moss is a three-state accounting firm with offices in New Albany, Corydon, and Georgetown, Ind., Louisville, Ky., and four offices across Tennessee. The firm’s website is www.rodefermoss.com.

Douglas York, CPA, President

Obamacare reporting requirements get extension, but haven’t changed

By Doug York, CPA, President of Rodefer Moss

The size and complexity of the Affordable Care Act’s (Obamacare) rules have been among its biggest problems since former President Barack Obama first put pen to paper to sign it into law. The situation becomes even more complicated around tax time. Employers must provide information both to employees and the IRS to avoid having to pay a penalty.

With Washington’s political wrangling fully underway over the future off Obamacare, there may be a belief among some that the law is in limbo and that we’re in a wait-and-see mode in terms of compliance.

No. Obamacare has not changed and neither have its requirements.

The resulting administrative burden is such that an extension has been given to employers to provide to employees IRS forms necessary to comply with the law. The IRS’s original deadline of Jan. 31, 2017 has been extended to March 2, 2017, for employers to have these forms in employees’ hands.

Additionally, if an employer errs, but nevertheless demonstrates “good faith” in their efforts, they can self-correct their issue without Uncle Sam’s heavy hand handing out penalties.

Employers with at least 50 full-time employees are required to provide a baseline, law-approved set of essential health benefits (EHB) to employees affected by the law’s definitions of full-time employees or equivalent employees. This information must be presented to Employees on IRS form 1095 –C. This ensures employees (as well as the IRS) understand what, and how, they’re affected. Perhaps most importantly to the IRS the form reveals whether it’s owed money in penalties.

IRS Forms 1095-B 1095-C are the object of the extension. The IRS explains on its website what the forms accomplish:

  • Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, provides you with information about your health care coverage if you, your spouse or your dependents enrolled in coverage through an insurance provider or self-insured employer last year.”

Employers received no extension in the timing to submit their 1094 and 1095 forms to demonstrate Obamacare-related compliance information (separate from the IRS forms listed above) to the IRS. These deadlines are Feb. 28 for those filing via paper, March 31 for those filing electronically.

The extension to March, 2, 2017 conceivably will result in a delay in tax returns if employees wait to have the forms in their possession before filing their taxes; however, taxpayers can use other documentation, such as insurance coverage and proof of payment, to show their status under Obamacare’s requirements.

An employer who files the wrong forms, or files forms with errors or inaccuracies, won’t be penalized by the IRS if the employer can demonstrate a “good faith” effort was made to abide by the law.

Obamacare may be changing, but the safest thing to do is not to assume and proceed as if nothing has changed in terms of reporting requirements. Because indeed, nothing has, changed.

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Make It Count with Rodefer Moss & Co., PLLC | Tax Tactics

By Doug York, CPA, Partner

Making good tax decisions at 2016’s end can lead to a happy new year in 2017. At year-end, there is a better picture of income and cash flow; now is the time to make decisions that could affect how much you’ll pay in taxes. Tax planning in general shifts income into years with lower tax rates and takes deductions in years with higher rates. If rates are equal, cash flow improves through income deferral and accelerated deductions.

This year is unique: the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act brought some certainty to year-end tax planning by making permanent many tax incentives that previously were annually extended. However, the 2016 presidential election results, coupled with the Republican congressional majority, could present a different tax landscape in 2017. Campaign comments indicate the possibility of lower tax brackets and fewer incentives; we’ll not know until an additional tax act is enacted in 2017. Based on today’s situation, we’ll review several strategies and tactics to limit income tax liability for individuals and businesses:

Individuals

  • Married couples typically have tax advantages if they file jointly; however, if one spouse has high medical bills, filing separately can reduce tax liability by increasing medical itemized deductions.
  • Buying a home has a range of tax ramifications. If you’re planning to buy a home – and you have loans that don’t allow for an interest deduction – check to see if you can save money by financing as much of your new home as you can, up to the down-payment limit, using any money you’d planned for a larger down payment to instead pay off the non-deductible loans.
  • Currently mortgage insurance premiums are deductible through the end of 2016, not 2017. With interest rates still low, it may be a good time to refinance and remove the premiums from your payments.
  • One PATH Act item not extended is the deduction for college tuition. If you’re able to take advantage of this deduction, you may want to make the maximum payments by the end of 2016.
  • If you’re over 70½, the PATH act made permanent your ability to exclude from income up to $100,000 of distributions from your IRA directly to a qualified charity.

 

Businesses

  • Accrual-basis taxpayers can declare a bonus for unrelated employees and properly accrued an expense in 2016 as long as the bonus is paid by March 15, 2017.
  • Businesses can affect taxable income by timing their investment in capital improvements. Bonus depreciation and first-year expensing under section 179 can both have an immediate impact on the current year’s taxable income.
  • The PATH Act extended bonus depreciation on new assets but included a phase-down over a four-year period. The amount remains at 50 percent for 2016 and 2017, but drops to 40 percent in 2018 and 30 percent in 2019.
  • Section 179 expensing has been permanently set at $500,000 and an investment limit of up to $2.01 million. Both amounts are indexed for inflation, and are available for assets placed in service up to Dec. 31, leaving about five weeks in the year to make this happen.
  • Heavy SUVs and pick-up trucks over 6,000 pounds are still eligible for a $25,000 deduction if purchased before Dec. 31, 2016.

With a new administration coming to power in Washington, the tax situation a year from now may be very different. Changes, whenever they occur, ripple across the entire system. The best idea: Find a tax advisor or accountant in whom you can put your trust, and listen carefully.

Rodefer Moss is a three-state accounting firm with offices in New Albany, Corydon, and Georgetown, Ind., Louisville, Ky., and four offices across Tennessee. The firm’s website is www.rodefermoss.com